Indigenous university professor Chelsea Watego will join QUT on July 26, leading a $ 1.7 million project to develop indigenous health humanities.
Professor Watego, who joins QUT from the University of Queensland, said the project aims to develop indigenous health humanities as a new and innovative field of inquiry, creating an intellectual collective.
The funding was announced under the federal government’s ARC Discovery Indigenous program for 2021.
“We aim to bridge the knowledge gap that hinders current efforts to bridge the gap in Indigenous health inequalities,” said Professor Watego.
“The project will bring together health and the humanities and examine how race and racism operate within the health care system by producing health disparities experienced by Indigenous peoples. “
She said the potential benefits included a more sustainable, relational and ethical approach to advancing new knowledge, advancing research careers and advancing health outcomes for Indigenous peoples. The work will include opportunities for artists, academics and activists to join and participate in podcasts, writing retreats and public seminars.
Professor Watego, a woman from Munanjahli and the South Sea Islands, has spent over 20 years working in Australian indigenous health as a health worker and researcher.
“My work has focused on interpreting and valuing Indigenous Australian experiences in the health system, including examining the role of Indigenous health workers,” said Professor Watego.
The five-year project will also involve academics from QUT, the University of Queensland and the Australian National University.
Professor Watego said she is keen to join QUT due to its change under the leadership of Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy) Angela Barney-Leitch by bringing together Indigenous collectives more broadly.
QUT recently released its Campus to Country strategy which aims to connect its campuses to one place, both physically and through its engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“We have the impression that universities have not been welcoming places for indigenous peoples, but at QUT, there is a very strong appetite for collective work and collaboration and it is really exciting”, she declared.
“Other universities have been inclusive and have connections, but not at this level. “
Ms Barney-Leitch said she looked forward to welcoming Professor Watego to QUT.
“Professor Watego’s voice and work on race is essential to changing the way race and racism are examined in Australia. She will assist QUT in its work to influence the engagement, success and empowerment of Indigenous Australians, ”said Ms. Barney-Leitch.